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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Combining Fluid Acrylic and Watercolor

Marbled Orb Weaver
Fluid Acrylic and Watercolor
16" X 20" image
24" X 27" brushed silver frame with white mat

After taking a fluid acrylic workshop from Nicholas Simmons I decided I finally had the tools at my disposal to paint "Marbled Orb Weaver". I had photographed this little spider a few years ago when he decided to hang from the side of my garage. I had been waiting for a technique that would allow me to paint her accentuating the marbling on her thorax while maintaining her glow. I wanted the background to be marbled as well, so she appeared comfortable in her surroundings. Fluid acrylics in combination with a "paint and remove" technique that Nicholas had shown us did the trick.

After experimenting with approaches to create the linear marbling for the background on scrap paper I decided I was ready to give it a try.

The marbling and all hard lined edge work was done in fluid acrylic. I started with the spider to make sure I could achieve the look that I wanted. Once satisfied with the marbled edges, I covered the spider with masking tape and worked on the background. I had used masking fluid earlier to paint the web so that paper would remain white.    

I chose a complementary color for the background compared to the vibrant orange and yellow of the spider. In addition to the "paint and remove" technique I used very runny paint so I could get great drips throughout the background. Once the marbling looked right, I used a very thin wash of fluid acrylic and opaque watercolor to add soft blue and lavendar tones to the background.

I chose fluid acrylic for most of the background since I knew once I removed the masking tape I may need to adjust the marbling on the spider and I didn't want to wash off the background.

A very wet into wet watercolor wash was used to add the spider's bright orange and golden coloring. Using watercolor for this step allowed the spider to glow in a way that I don't think I would have achieved with acrylic alone. After adding a few detailed darks and touching up the web, Marbled Orb Weaver was ready for prime time. This slideshow shows the major stages of the painting.

The following slideshow depicts the major steps described.

Some of my other paintings that use the technique of combining fluid acrylic and watercolor can be seen in these other blog entries.

Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.


  1. Hi April,
    I am playing with fluid acrylics and other mediums, like gels, impesto and molding paste. This is a fun experiment. Nothing has become of my creations. Maybe someday I will actually produce something... Keep enjoying your art.
    Brush poet.

  2. I've enjoyed doing watercolor over medium gel applied and then striated to get some texture before doing the watercolor. Haven't done this is a while, but maybe it'd time to do this again. - April

  3. I love that April, who'd have thought a painting of a spider could be so cool?! How big is it?

  4. The image is about 16" X 20", that seemed large enough for a spider. Have a few plans for much larger work. Stay tuned.

  5. I just found out that this painting was selected by juror, Amanda Burnham, to be included in Art HoCo 2009 at the Howard County Arts Council located at 8510 High Ridge Rd, Ellicott City, Maryland. The exhibit will run from October 29th through December 11th.


I look forward to hearing from you. - April

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